Marvel Studios recently confirmed the news that fans were dreading but nonetheless expecting, pushing Black Widow back by another six months to May 2021. The longest gap between new installments in the shared universe in over a decade just got even longer, then, but that means there’s another six months for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s super sleuths to try and deduce the direction of the plot.
We’ve seen a lot of footage and images from Natasha Romanoff’s long-awaited solo debut so far, but specifics still remain largely under wraps. There’s been speculation that Black Widow will be tied directly to the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, though, and the latest fan theory claims that Cate Shortland’s big screen prequel could even explain why Bucky was tasked with assassinating Howard Stark.
You see, David Harbour’s Red Guardian was created using the same super soldier serum that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America, instantly tying his origins to Howard. As per the theory, this suggests that the Cold War arms race also involved superheroes, and we already know that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will feature both Isaiah Bradley and John Walker, two successful American test subjects.
Given his reputation as an arms magnate, Howard could have discovered that Russia had created their own super soldier and acquired samples of the serum via the black market given his close connections to both the original program and S.H.I.E.L.D. This could be the reason why the Winter Soldier was sent after him in November 1991 to stop the information from falling into American hands.
As ScreenRant Explains:
Because the super-soldier serum had been sold on the black market, Howard Stark would have competed with others in a bidding war to get his hands on it; one of his competitors could have been Hydra, explaining how they knew he had it. When they lost the bid, Hydra decided to take drastic measures, and – as shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – they thawed out the Winter Soldier, and assigned Bucky Barnes to assassinate Howard and Maria Stark before SHIELD could analyze the sample. And so Hydra began to conduct their own experiments using the Russian sample retrieved by the Winter Soldier, although those were less than successful.
Not only does this tie into the MCU’s established mythology, but it also connects the first two pieces in the Phase Four jigsaw and potentially explains how Tony Stark’s widely rumored Black Widow cameo fits into the narrative. For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see if any of this ends up playing out in the film.